Long time charcoal smoker converting to electric.

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by ross77, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. ross77

    ross77 Fire Starter

    Just joined from Minneapolis Minnesota.  I've been using a Weber Smokey Mountain for years but have decided to switch to electric.  I'm tired of messing with charcoal and adjusting vents....

    Bought a MES 30" last week.  It's seasoned and ready for meat.  

    Looking forward to finding lots of good info on this site.
    subieman likes this.
  2. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You are going from a fireburner to electric, think of a stove in the kitchen. A gas stove heats water quickly were an electric takes its time. Its the same with the smoker. Electric is a more precise temp. but it has to really work to recover lost heat. A charcoal or gas recovers fast but it fluctuates (OMG, spellchecker says I spelled that right).

    This means with an electric its is very important that you leave the door closed. I read somewhere it takes 15 mins. to recover from opening the door although I doubt that long it does take time. lets say 10 mins. when you expect a 12 hour smoke and open the door once an hour that's a 2 hour adder. Whereas with a fireburner you have to tend the fire, which means you are allowing the moisture to dispensate.

    Electric, keep the door shut, doesn't require the moisture like moping, spritzing, injections. In over 30 years of being around electrics I can't remember a smoke ring. Push/pull, I can live without the smoke ring, and I can sleep all night not needing to tend the fire. Suggest you either remove the water pan, I use mine for a drip pan. Or some foil line it and fill it with sand, in regards to the heat loss, they use it as a heat sink.

    Now we move to the disputed subject of vent position.

    If you throw it full open, it will dry your food some, which is desired with brine or cured smoking. But..... if smoke a normal piece of meat/fish/fowl I use the vent to regulate the smoke. When full open you are working the heater maintaining temp., you are burning excessive chips/pellets to smoke. When the vent is regulated or partly closed depending upon the adjustment, it is better using the smoke while more easily holding your temperature.

    If you invest in a good aux. smoke generator and not use chips, it is fine either way you decide. If you want to use chips as designed, you need to regulate it.  Your call, you must decide how you want to run your smoker. I have done both ways, I have even smoked for years in a totally closed smoker which when done right does fine. Its about mastering what you want to do.

    IT (internal Temp) this is how everything is gauged. I assume you know about it since you have smoked before. If you have a good remote response thermometer and you are smoking, you can go to bed. It will tell you when the food is done.

    Lastly, if using chips, I think the general consensus is don't soak them. The only reason I can see for soaking them is allow the food a preheat before it starts smoking. Why?  Because from what I have seen here somewhere, maybe Jeff E-Message or a book.... Well from 100 to 140 food is really susceptible to smoke, above and below it has diminished returns. 100 to 140 is when the food is the happiest, other than that you are just pouring the smoke to it. Its all your call. Some like a lot of smoke.

    All the other smoking rules I believe are still in effect. LOL....

    Lets see.... Slow recovery keep the door closed, smoke sweet spot 100 to 140, no smoke ring, no moisture needed, learn what you want for your vent adjustment. add a RF thermometer and sleep all night. Its really easy to use.

    I always forget something and surely someone will come along and give you their opposite opinions. That's smoking, its mastering how you want to do it.

    For awhile I suggest you take notes, that way its easier to learn a new smoker and different techniques. Have patience, its hard to mess up as you already know.

    Most of all just enjoy the smoke! A day when you smoke is always a beautiful day.

    BTW chicken is great to get a good run thru....
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  3. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    What type of meats do you normally smoke?
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  4. ross77

    ross77 Fire Starter

    Pork butt mostly.  Lots of pork ribs and I usually smoke a turkey every Thanksgiving.  I've only done brisket a couple times.
  5. ross77

    ross77 Fire Starter

    Wow!  Thanks for the rundown.  I'm going electric because I'm tired of getting up in the middle of the night to add charcoal.
  6. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    :welcome1: to SMF!!! We're happy you joined us! We have over 50,000 members now who just love to share what they know. You've come to the best place on the net to learn and share everything Q!!!
  7. [​IMG]Hello, and Welcome from East Texas. This is a great site, lots of good information and great people.

  8. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    [​IMG]to SMF!  We are so glad you joined us! 

    We love to see pictures of what you are cooking (or what we call q-views here at SMF).  To "upload the q-views" just follow the directions here and it will be easier. If you are using a cell phone, an IPad or a kindle, go to the main SMF page and click the Mobile button. Will make the uploads a bit faster too.

    If you didn't read the "Terms of Service" notes.....please do.  There are a few things that everyone should know about those pesky little rules before plunging into the forums and some guidelines of how to interact within the forums. Off site links are not allowed here at SMF per TulsaJeff. Not that you have done anything wrong....just a little bit of FYI for new members!

    If you need any help roaming around the forums....just holler!  Happy to help out!

  9. scootermagoo

    scootermagoo Smoking Fanatic

    I'll be interested in finding out about your discoveries from converting from charcoal to electric.  I am interested in flavor profile differences, smoke characteristics and whatnot.  Welcome to SMF!
  10. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Welcome aboard, Ross...Glad you joined us!

  11. HERACY!  Going from a WSM to an electric!  HAHA    Seriously, Foam has some great advice for you above.  Another option would be to get an ATC.  With it you can set and forget the pit.

    I'd like to add one thing: I never get up in the middle of the night to add charcoal.  Yesterday, I ran over 15 yrs on one load of lump without water in the pan (with a clay saucer) and naturally aspirated (no ATC).  I could have gone longer but I got sleepy and shut down the iGrill and closed the vents.

    However, I did have to make four vent adjustment which could have had to be done during the night had it been an overnight cook. If I had an ATC I would not have had to be concerned with vent adjustments.

    Here's a screen shot of the iGrill chart of the cook (click to enlarge).

    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  12. WOWWWWW! you ran a load of lump for 15 YRS????? in one day?..lmao.
  13. welcome aboard! ya come to the right palce fer' sure! :)
  14. Hey, I want some of that lump !!!!!

  15. Just el cheapo lump from Publix. I think Naked Whiz rates this brand pretty low. The secret is no water in the pan.  Because I run no water I close the vents down to reduce the oxygen which makes the WSM VERY efficient.

    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  16. ross77

    ross77 Fire Starter

    I'm tired of messing with charcoal as a heat source.  Too much work.  

    I see you've got the 22.5" WSM which can also hold a lot more charcoal than my 18".  

    All we need is heat and wood smoke right?  We'll see if I can tell a difference after I smoke something in the MES.
  17. I, too, converted this year from a Brinkman Charcoal to the MES Electric. I got it as a gift, so my model doesn't have adjustable vents. The issue I've found is that while using a digital thermometer for my meat and grill, everything comes out perfectly cooked. BUT…

    I'm really missing the smoky flavor. It's more of a hint (think that slight taste you get in store bought "smoked" lunch meats"), rather than a powerful flavor. I tried the dust rather than the chips last time, with no improved result. I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my AMNPS to see if that does the trick.

    Have you had the same issues converting that I have?
  18. Never had an electric, almost bought one just for jerky  Like my Wood and charcoal.

  19. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    And its a b1tch when the power goes out.  [​IMG]
  20. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Back Ups

    Primary 2500KW ( fully auto)

    Secondary (Portable) 8KW, handles 3 freezers, 3 refridgerators, and 2 240V window A/C's

    This is hurricane country, we don't do no electricity. Smokers are part of the necessity package..... LOL

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